When Theatre No Longer Feels Like a Safe Space

When Theatre No Longer Feels Like a Safe Space

Theatre provides us many services, which makes it hard when it becomes not so welcoming.

The theatre has always been a place for me, as well as I know for others, that without question is a second home. It’s a place for solace, reflection, and enrichment that can constantly be found in many locations instead of one. Wherever you go, it travels with you ensuring that you can always have a place to come to fulfill the need to escape, to question, or to be merely be satisfied. Whatever need you need it to fulfill for that moment, it’s there.

Keeping the services that theatre provides us in mind, it’s hard then to reckon with what happens when that space no longer feels so welcoming. Last week, vice president-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton in New York. Upon arrival, he was booed by several audience members to the point where Pence rushed to leave during the curtain call of the performance.

During which, one of the cast members, Brandon Victor Dixon recited a speech not attacking nor penalizing Pence for his beliefs or the response he had created by his appearance at the performance. Dixon took this moment to remind Pence how the cast and he invited him into this show, and encourage him to walk away with the ideals that they hope to emulate throughout such work in celebrating diversity, the need for art, and ensuring the opportunities for people to tell their stories. Dixon wished him nothing but the best in all sincere gratitude with a solid cast behind him.

The following morning, the #BoycottHamilton movement was created. People calling for the show to be shut down and encouraging others not to see it, protests erupting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre, and a subsequent outburst that occurred here in the Chicago production of Hamilton. Articles upon articles rushed out offering their take on this matter.

People wondered how audience members could be so rude. Others wondered if this outburst was merely a distraction to take us away from focusing on other political decisions being made during this time. Others had to poke fun at such a situation in that those protesting such a show failed to realize how its acclaim and subject matter could prevent it from being in any way ignorant or unacceptable.

Amidst all of this, the incident did provoke a lot of necessary conversation in the theatrical community. The response from the artists and the creators of this production showed a lot that can be taken away and to keep in mind when moving through these difficult times:

The most effective way to combat hateful speech is though eloquent and well-intended rhetoric.

Instead of instigating an upset audience, the ensemble quickly composed themselves together and encouraged the audience to stop booing Pence. And instead of telling him off or expressing anger, they extended a hand to join them. They handled the situation through compelling and understanding, gentle words, that were still strong and effective, but not from a place of hurt or anger. It managed to silence the entire audience and get everyone to listen.

Collaboration and listening are needed now more than ever.

With a show that showcases many liberal viewpoints as well as crafted by a highly liberal creator, the material can speak for itself in effectiveness. But there's no way its message would be so successful if its ensemble executes that vision. The whole show furthered proved its solidarity and the show's view points by handling the incident with such a strong ensemble. The keys to the show’s success as well as their response to an unexpected event speak volume to what we need to be implementing most right now onstage and off.

Even when the principals of audience etiquette are stressed, each person will have their own level of understanding.

A thing that has become even harder to control with the need for technology at our fingertips, this is not the first instance we have had of improper audience etiquette and it won’t be the last. Some will feel the rules are looser or the consequences are minimal or that other rights are of higher value. We can only hope to give the expectations we seek, and that those are in return fulfilled.

When the events of the outside world are brought into the theatre, they cannot be ignored.

This is exactly why we have political art in the first place. Politics have always been a great source for material in the theatre and will continue to even more so as it continues to take its course of events. The same can be said of the patrons who attend. We can’t cater a show based on who’s in the audience and how the message or material might affect them. To do so would be ludicrous. We can only present the material that has been extensively rehearsed and planned and that audiences will take for it what they will. It only benefits even more if it can have a directly applicable connection to our world.

We must be willing to teach, not shut out.

The only way to combat ignorance is knowledge. The person being taught must be willing to listen and learn of course, but we mustn’t forget that we have that capacity to teach in fear it will not make an impact. There is always capability for growth and to expand upon one’s knowledge. It’s never too late even when we’re faced with someone who seems strong in their ways or stirs up many strong feelings in others.

The Hamilton cast headed by Brandon Victor Dixon understood and implemented all of these thoughts in their response to this disturbance. Their ideas and words were not only heard, but also echoed with full support by the show's creator, Lin Manuel-Miranda, as well as many pillars of the theatre community. This experience that seemed to be a stumble in the run of this production and and a disruption overall in the theatrical community actually proved to be a step forward. A step that shows how despite what's going on in the outside world we remain strong in ensuring the work we do is important in ensuring stories and people's voices are heard. In a time of a plethora of strong opinions, this is a right we must remember and not forget.

Cover Image Credit: https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/33268589/apologize-trump-hits-hamilton-cast-for-confronting-pence/

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Am Pro-Life, And I Am Tired Of Being Attacked For My Opinion

I am pro-life from a secular and logical standpoint.


We live in a country based on free speech, so why are pro-lifers verbally and physically attacked for merely their stance on a controversial topic? Why is Instagram censoring pro-life voices? Social media users should be given both sides of the argument, then allowed to make an informed decision, but by showing them only pro-choice content, their opinion will be biased.

Harmless pro-life posts are being shadow-banned from popular hashtags, lowering reach and engagement. There is a problem when non-violent, non-hateful posts showcasing people holding up signs that say, "Voices for the Voiceless", are censored.

Why are pro-choicers allowed to share their opinions on social media and be praised, while pro-lifers lose followers for sharing a pro-life post? It is vital that people have different opinions, and shunning pro-lifers encourages homogeneity of political opinions. Pro-lifers should not lose friends. Pro-lifers should not be attacked. Pro-lifers should not be scared of speaking up for what they believe is right.

I am pro-life, but I respect everyone's opinion. Instead of shunning the opposite side, I try to hear them out and understand where they are coming from.

Instead of dismissing pro-lifers as being old white men trying to control women's bodies, why not hear them out and try to understand the reasoning behind their opinions?

I used to be neutral on the topic of abortion, until a month ago, when I saw something that completely changed my perspective. It was around the time Governor Kemp signed the fetal heartbeat bill in Georgia, and it was a hot topic, so I decided to do some research. I came across a sight called "Priests For Life". "Oh great", I thought, "This site is going to impose its Christian views of abortion on everyone." Once on the site, I clicked on a tab titled, "America Will Not Reject Abortion Until America Sees Abortion."

I clicked on the gallery, and was confronted with the cold hard truth. View the gallery with extreme caution, because the images/videos are VERY graphic.

From this site, I also discovered that planned parenthood harvests and sells the body parts of aborted babies. Keep in mind, Planned Parenthood, providing 1/3 of abortions in America, receives $500 million dollars yearly from taxpayers. Having taxpayers' money going toward reforming foster care would be a better idea in my opinion.

The Declaration of Independence states, "Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". The difference in opinion on whether the law should protect unborn children is a major factor that divides the pro-life and pro-choice movements.

In my humble opinion, I believe an unborn child should be protected by the law once a heartbeat is detected. We cannot dehumanize unborn children with euphemisms such as "clump of cells" or "potential life". We were all once "a clump of cells", and we still are. Can you name one non-living thing with a heartbeat? There is none.

The level of development of a human does not detract from his/her rights. All lives matter!

The most common pro-choice argument is "My body my choice." Yes, your body your choice, but when it's not your body, it's not your choice. The baby has its own unique set of DNA, its own organs, its own limbs, brain activity and a heartbeat. Just because a woman carries a baby does not give her a right to end his/her life.

Some may say the fetus cannot survive on its own, but a 1 month infant cannot either. A one month old infant depends on the care of a mother or guardian, and if it were to be left without food or water, it would not be able to fend for itself. Someone on life support cannot survive without the incubator. Elderly people with dementia depend on the care of staff in senior centers for survival.

The parasite argument is also a common one. Basic biology can refute this one. An unborn child in the womb is not a parasite, because for it to be a parasite it would have to be a different species than the mother, which would cause an adverse immune response.

"Everyone has the right to choose," is found on almost every pro-choice protest sign, and yes I agree. You have the right to choose to do whatever you want, but the second your actions harm another human's rights, a line must be drawn.

A women's right to choose ends when her baby's right to life begins.

Another common argument that is condescending towards pro-lifers is that they are pro-birth but not pro-life. Tell that to the thousands of pro-lifers adopting multiple children, giving them the best possible life. Tell that to the people outside of planned parenthood with signs that say "I will take your baby." Tell that to the numerous churches helping pregnant women. Tell that to the government who is giving single mothers tax breaks, food stamps and countless other resources.

The foster system may be flawed, but that is not justify ending the life of a child. More than 18,000 American families successfully adopt newborn babies in the United States every year.

Regardless, suffering is inevitable; you cannot end a child's life because he/she will live a difficult life. Instead, legislation should be passed to improve the foster care system and the adoption process. When a child is not aborted there is always hope, a chance, a possibility.

Some "pro-lifers" say, "I am pro-life for my body, but pro-choice for everyone else". This reasoning fails in many ways. You never hear anyone say, "I would never abuse my child, but I would never take away a parent's choice of if they want to abuse their child or not". Being pro-life means advocating for the defenseless, which means every single child, not just your own.

Women can do whatever they want with their lives, as long as their actions do not end the heartbeat of another human being.

All over social media, you see people sharing posts that say the women will be sentenced to 99 years of jail for having an abortion and 30 years for a miscarriage, but this is false. Often celebrities are the ones using their platforms to share these false statements. People should also fact-check the things they see on Instagram before believing them.

One line all pro-choicers say is "No uterus, no opinion". Let's not forget the people who made abortion legal were old, white men. This line is hypocrisy at its finest. If the line was "No prostate, no opinion", World War III would break out.

Most people are outraged by the fact that majority of the politicians who signed the heartbeat bill in Georgia were men, but let us not forget that Georgia residents vote for these representatives knowing the policies they advocate for. Around 40% of Americans are pro-life, and around 40% of women are pro-life, but these percentages are significantly greater in Conservative states, which explains the election of conservative representatives in Georgia and Alabama.

Pro-choicers often paint an image of pro-lifers as men who want to control the bodies of women, but that could not be any further from the truth. Abortion allows men to use women and not be held responsible for the consequences. Banning abortion teaches men responsibility and loyalty.

The purpose of the pro-life movement is not to control a woman's body but rather grant an innocent, unborn child the fundamental right to life.

Regardless of my pro-life stance, I do believe abortion should be allowed in RARE cases; for example, when the mother's health is in danger.

I agree these anti-abortion bills put a lot of stress on the mother, so I am all for increasing the involvement of the father. Whether it be increasing the amount and frequency of child support payments or making the father co-parent, it takes two to create a child, so the father should pull his weight.

Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. once said, "Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate."

This article is not meant to shun anyone who has had an abortion or is pro-choice. I respect your stance 100 percent. The purpose of this article is to address the social media bias towards liberal views of abortion and the stigma of leaning toward the right on abortion. There is no one right answer to this debate. It is not always black and white; that is why the abortion debate has been going on for decades.

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